Sprinkling of Holt, Illingworth and Dalby magic helps SBCI 2XI perform the ultimate Houdini trick and win the Crossley Shield for the first time in their history.
Local rivals Warley beaten by 34 runs as we gain a modicum of revenge for our defeat in the final of 2016.
Whilst coming close and losing in the Crossley Shield final in both 1986 and 2016 (losses to both Blackley and Warley respectively), the SBCI second team had never won either the Premier Division league title or the knockout trophy for second teams in the Halifax league. A few close calls along the way in both competitions, but never landing one of two of the main prizes that our amateur cricket league has to offer. The Crossley Shield has been played for each year since 1948, with the exception of 2020 when the global pandemic interfered.
We were aware that we had a more than capable team to compete in both league and cup competitions and an agonising loss on the last day of the 2022 season saw us finish second in the league, showed us how far we had progressed as we needed to win on the final day of the 2021 season just to stay in the top division. Of course, with it being an amateur sport, holidays and other absences mean that you can’t always pick your strongest XI meaning that there’ll always be peaks and troughs in form in any given season.
We started off our 2023 cup campaign in May with a couple of tricky fixtures against lower league opposition.
Against Outlane in round 1, Waqas Suffyan with 4 for 23 and captain Simon Hampshire with 2 for 17 were the standout performers with the ball after we’d asked our guests for the day to bat. Rob Larkin and Chris Dalby with the other wickets to fall as well as a run out meant that we’d be chasing 119 to get through to the next round. And we did so comfortably by a margin of 7 wickets with more than 20 overs left. Chris 42 not out ably supported by John Greenwood and Mark Fellows with Tony Kirby being 13 not out at the end.
We were back at the Astley’s at the end of May to take on Mount in the second round of the Shield and despite a few changes to personnel we reduced our guests for the day to 76 for 9 (Tyson Illingworth 5 for 13 and Simon 3 for 21 from their allotted overs) before the 10th wicket pair put on nearly 80 to post a more than useful 155. Against a more than decent opposition bowling line up, we were behind the required rate, especially at 32 for 3. A 126-run partnership for the 4th wicket between Chris and Tony was timed to perfection as we more than caught up with the required rate to record a seven wicket win with 5 overs and a ball left- it was certainly a closer game than it looked on paper.
Onto round three and it was a late finish up at the Stute’ on the final Sunday of June as the tie against Mytholmroyd was forced to be carried over into the following week with the game finely balanced with 10 overs of the opposition innings left, before bad light halted proceedings. We made 209 for 8 from our 45 overs. Mark 53 and Chris 57 being the main contributors to that total along with an invaluable 34 not out from 31 balls from the returning Mike Veitch, and 15 from 13 balls from vice-captain Matthew Keast. Mike then switched his attention to bowling and has 3 for 21 with one over remaining of his nine over spell with Simon, Chris and Rob taking a wicket each. We returned on 2nd July to finish off the remaining 10 or so. With 35 or so runs required but with only four wickets left when the game was halted the previous week, it could have been a very close and tense affair. We had nothing to worry about in the end as the final four wickets were taken with the addition of only 16 runs to see us through to the semi-final and yet another home time against Thornton CC.
Despite a disappointing show in the league 24 hours before our semi-final, we thankfully and quickly found our form again to sweep Thornton aside in our cup semi-final. Rob Larkin the undoubted star of the show with the ball with 5 for 21, with Waqas and Chris also taking two wickets each. Double figure scores from everyone in the bat ensured that despite being 56 for 2 and then 57 for 3, we romped home with 6 wickets in hand and with more than 15 overs left.
And so, onto the final on 20th August against our local rivals Warley with the game being played at Sowerby St Peters CC. New training, polo and playing shirts sourced, pre-match sandwiches at SBCI made and eaten, and we were on our way. Traditional pre-match photos done, along with some nervous chatter and warmups and it was onto the toss, which skipper Simon Hampshire lost and we were asked to bat first on a difficult looking playing surface that would keep low and leaving free scoring shots to a premium. Without giving everyone a blow-by-blow account, we made 116 all out in 41.3 overs- Chris Dalby the last man out for a very patient 41. Brad Holt was the other star of the show with the willow, making a mockery of the difficult playing conditions by blasting 34 from only 35 balls which contained three massive sixes. A below par total, but we knew that Warley had to bat on the same deck and that it would be far from easy to get the 117 runs they needed.
Added to the awkward nature of the pitch, there was also the SBCI maroon wall to contend with. Around 50 Mum’s, Dad’s, wives, girlfriends, sisters, other family members and SBCI supporters camped in at one end of the Sowerby ground to give our lads a lot of vocal encouragement (some of it alcohol induced)– which was and always is greatly appreciated and I’m sure it spurred our lads onto that bit of extra effort when the match got towards its conclusion.
And so, onto the Warley innings. Wickets were taken at regular intervals but knowing that they bat all the way down, even having the opposition at 41 for 3, 41 for 4 and then 49 for 5, we knew that we couldn’t relax. Chris kept it tight at one end opening the bowling with Simon, but it was wickets that we needed. Chris got the first wicket to fall getting the dangerous Warley skipper for a duck with only five runs on the board. A run out always helps proceedings and Tyson obliged with a well-judged throw to John Greenwood as both of the Warley batters met at the non-strikers end. Four tight overs from Rob Larkin more than helped our cause, but it was then over to Tyson and Brad to really turn the game on its head. 8 wickets for 41 between them, aided by some not very smart cricket from the Warley middle / lower order and two fantastic catches in the same over by Waqas off Brad’s first over turned the tide in our favour. 50 for 6 then swiftly became 64 for 8 as we made the most of the low bounce and favourable bowling conditions and despite an 18 run 9th wicket partnership which took Warley within striking distance of the finishing line, Brad and then Tyson took the last two wickets to see us to Crossley Shield final glory for the first time in our history.
As you can imagine the celebrations were long and hard, which they should if you pick up a first piece of cup silverware. In some instances, the celebrations carried on into the Monday for those sensible enough to have taken a day off work.
A huge congratulations to anyone involved with SBCI- players, members, supporters and sponsors. Yes, there were 11 men out on the pitch who rightly got the plaudits, but this is a trophy to be enjoyed and savoured by everyone at our wonderful cricket club.